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MHRMI Interviews Proud Macedonian UFC Fighter Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski

December 9, 2016

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UFC Macedonian Human Rights Movement International President, Bill Nicholov, had the pleasure of interviewing proud Macedonian UFC fighter, Alexander “The Great” Volkanovski following his recent and impressive Ultimate Fighting Championship debut.

MHRMI: First, congratulations on winning your UFC debut! Yes, I’m pretending to be Joe Rogan or Jon Anik, describe the feeling for us...

AV: To be honest with you, it was a relief. Prior to getting the call up to the UFC I was rated the number one pound-for-pound fighter in South East Asia, Australia and New Zealand riding a 10 fight win streak. I came in to my UFC debut with a lot of hype and a lot of expectation to perform. Every fight is the same for me, so I was not nervous given the scale of the event but I must say to hear Bruce Buffer announce my name and getting my hand raised in the Octagon was the realisation of a dream and a promise to myself that I made the first day I went to the gym.

MHRMI: While watching UFC Fight Night Melbourne on November 26, I saw your name and knew that you must be Macedonian. When they announced “Alexander ‘The Great’ Volkanovski”, it was a moment of pride for myself and Macedonians around the world. How important is displaying pride in your Macedonian heritage to you?

AV: Prior to making the UFC, I fought around Australia and Asia as Alex “The Hulk”, which made sense for me at the time as I was smashing my way through the local competition. When I got the call to fight for the UFC I knew I was destined to move on to bigger things, it was not my intention to just make the UFC, I believe in my skills 100% and truly believe I will have UFC gold in my journey. I saw my UFC debut as the first step in my journey to take over the world and having the chance to do that following in the footsteps of such an important and heroic national figure, given my name and family heritage, to me it seems like my destiny is to put Macedonia on the MMA world map. There is no mistaking where I come from with that name and I want to show other Macedonians that if you follow your dream, nothing is impossible.

MHRMI: What inspired you to become an MMA fighter and how tough a road was it to get into the sport’s biggest promotion? Our tradition of having Macedonian village strength must have played a role :)

AV: I started off in wrestling at an early age and had great success, winning two Australian titles in that sport. I am a very naturally driven person, no matter what I put my mind to, I want to do it to the best of my ability. I was playing first grade rugby league and training in MMA to keep myself fit for rugby. I went as far as I could go with rugby winning the premiership and leagues best and fairest medal. I decided to move on to MMA and commit myself 100% to that venture. It was such a tough road making it to the UFC, my record was 13-1 and I was coming off 10 consecutive wins, having never fought an opponent with a losing record and winning a world title and 9 Australian titles over 3 weight divisions. I honestly believe you would be hard presed to find someone that took a harder route to the UFC than the path I took.

MHRMI: This is typically the first question asked by Macedonians, even before “what’s your name”, but what village are you from? That was tough waiting until the fourth question....Of course, being born and raised in Australia, how much of a factor did fighting in front of your hometown fans play in your tremendous performance?

AV: My father was from Berenci, I've never been there but I will soon I hope. Fighting in my home country was unreal, especially hearing that crowd roar when I got the victory. I feed off the energy of the crowd and I am humbled every fight by the amazing response I get from my Macedonian fans.

MHRMI: What’s next for you in the UFC?

AV: I was signed by the UFC as a Lightweight (155 lbs) but my division is Featherweight (145 lbs). I made a big enough statement in my debut that I have been accepted to move down to Featherweight which is the most competitive division in the UFC. Being so competitive, I have to wait until I get the call up again to show my skills, make another statement and show them why I deserve to be one of the regular names in the division.

MHRMI: One last Macedonian-centric question...we’ve all experienced the fight about our Macedonian ethnicity and human rights issues. This was on full display during the recent Olympics when Macedonian athletes walked in behind “Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia” and were not permitted to wear their country name on their jerseys. Your success, on its own, raises awareness for Macedonia. There are many ways in which Macedonian athletes can assist in these issues, do you see yourself taking on a role and in what way?

AV: The one thing I want everyone with a dream to understand is, no matter what your dream is, who you are or where you come from, do your best to every day and keep moving forward. Regardless of who tries to bring you down or the obstacles faced, keep moving forward and eventually the negativity will be drowned out by the success and you will be recognised. Always be proud of who you are and where you came from and never let anything get in the way of the success you are working towards.

MHRMI: Do you have a message for your fans and, once again, congratulations!

AV: I say this all the time; I get energy and feed off the love I get from around the world. No voice is louder than the Macedonian support and from the bottom of my heart I thank each and every one of you that are walking this journey by my side, to everyone that has sent a message, bought a shirt, gone to the fights or cheered from home, together we will continue to rise and forge our legacy.


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Macedonian Human Rights Movement International (MHRMI) has been active on human and national rights issues for Macedonians and other oppressed peoples since 1986. For more information: 1-416-850-7125,
info@mhrmi.org, www.mhrmi.org, twitter.com/mhrmi, facebook.com/mhrmi, mhrmi.org/OurNameIsMacedonia.




 
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